Need to disagree here. Bill is overrated for me as far as individual play goes. He was simply too average on the offense (44% FG for a Center is not really good). Sure defensively he is among the GOATs but even here Wilt has slightly better numbers. Hakeem is little underrated here. Even Jordan went on record saying that he would be his number one pick for center. Hakeem had a positive H2H against Jordan’s bulls including a 5-1 during the first three-peat. Jordan allegedly even said something along the lines like he is happy that the Rockets do not get out of the west and that if Hakeem is in the zone there is not much anyone can do but to wait until the storm is over. This coming from an arrogant egomaniac like MJ says something. Hakeem also completely destroyed Robinson and Shaq (yes pre prime but still) in 95 and his stats in steals are unique for a center. As for Shaq himself: Wilt was ten times the athlete Shaq was. I can hardly picture Shaq doing high jump or triple jump or running the 100 meter dash in 11sec, let alone playing all 48 mins for a full season in higher pace games. Both of them obviously suck from the free throw line but other than that I would put Wilt at the very least on the same level in actual basketball ability (finger roll, jumper, assists etc.)
You know, after I posted that last nite it did occur to me that Wilt's edge over Shaq in passing and rebounding was too hard to ignore. Shaq even in his leaner days was never the undisputed king of boards that Bill and Wilt were, and even if we take into account the latter's well-known hoarding of assists in those years he was clearly a better facilitator than Shaq. And yes, a better athlete by some distance, too.
OTOH... Shaq's own advantage in the offense department is real and significant. You needn't take Winter at his word for that, just compare the umpteen YT clips of both players and there's no doubt Shaq had a bigger bag of tricks than Wilt ever did. (The only big who boasted a wider variety of low-post moves is McHale.) Of course the most varied or complete doesn't necessarily mean the best and you could say Wilt's trademark finger roll was just as effective, but potent as his weapon was it wasn't quite as unstoppable as Kareem's sky hook, as he reportedly found out from ATG defenders like Russell and Thurmond.
Still not convinced? Then let's turn to the numbers. Here are Wilt's and Shaq's PTS/FGA in their most prolific seasons:
Wilt (1961-62) - 1.28 (50.4/39.5)
Shaq (1999-00) - 1.41 (29.7/21.1)
That's a pretty big gap, and given that Shaq had the identical # of FTA (10.4) while converting even less (a dismal 52.4% vs. 61.3%) it's hard not to conclude that the Big Aristotle was the more dangerous offensive force of these two titans.
And again there's the mental part. I've already mentioned what Sharman had to do in order to get his unruly star fully involved, but it becomes even more comical when you hear from the man himself. According to journo/former coach Charley Rosen:
"I'd just keep asking him questions about strategy," says Sharman, "until Wilt came up with the right answer. Then I'd tell him how smart he was and what a great idea he'd come up with. Thinking that every important strategy was his, Wilt played championship ball."
Plus, in what's gotta be the most badass move by a basketball coach ever (or in basketball period), Alex Hannum reportedly had to slam Wilt against a locker and threaten to smash his face unless he finally got his shi-ite together. That's what it took for Wilt to win his two championships (with the 1966-67 Philly Warriors and the 1971-72 LA Lakers), and I dare you to find a comparable example of Shaq giving any of his coaches such a tough time.
All that said, these two are the best power centers ever and I'm now inclined to give them a tie. Both take a clear back seat to Kareem as their godawful FT shooting makes them useless in the clutch, and neither was the defender or leader that Bill was (more on Bill vs. Wilt shortly). But they both rank above Hakeem for this reason: the Dreamer was really a power forward in a center's body, and while he was probably the most athletic big ever Wilt's and Shaq's superior size and power would give them a significant advantage in the low post where these three did most of their damage. Also I've asked a couple longtime insiders (two coaches, one ref) about Bill vs. Hakeem and they all said that the latter's Dream Shake wouldn't be all that effective against the former's suffocating defense. Throw in the fact that Hakeem wasn't much of a passer and it's hard to make a case for him above the usual suspects.
As for the Secretary of Defense himself... it's true Bill's O was limited but then he wasn't the go-to scorer that all of these other guys were. You also need to keep in mind that the game was more physical and intense and the offense more primitive in his heyday, and there's no doubt his shooting % would improve accordingly in a later era (as Wilt's own % did).
But it's really on the other end of the floor that he schools everyone else. Reportedly the guy was so quick he could wait till after his opponent's release to deflect/block the shot, and he also had a knack for getting his hand on the ball so that it remained in bounds and recoverable by his mates. Those "slightly better numbers" for Wilt are highly misleading as they can't capture any of this and Bill never dominated the ball nearly as much. And even if one grants that Wilt's defense wasn't too far behind it wasn't until later in his career that he used it to his team's advantage rather than his own, like in that 2nd championship season (1971-72) when Sharman convinced him to go easy on his ball hogging in favor of Jerry West and Gail Goodrich (a precursor of the Showtime Lakers, if you will) who often put up shots before Wilt could set himself up in the low post and mid-range. (The numbers tell the story: his FGA came all the way down from his career high of 39.5 to 9.3 and he averaged just 14.8 points vs. 50.4 or even his previous season's 20.7.)
That Chamberlain who devoted himself to rebounding, passing, defending and setting crushing screens at the expense of his individual glory might well have been the best big there ever was... except for the small fact that this was his penultimate season and we got to see very little of Wilt the consummate teammate before or after. Ergo advantage Russell and Abdul-Jabbar, even though their rival (as you may know Wilt and Kareem hated each other's guts) likely had the highest ceiling.